Chants stun Auburn to give Ellis a happy homecoming

ccuhoops-ellisauburnBadou Diagne and Warren Gillis hit jumpers in the final minute and Coastal Carolina head coach Cliff Ellis won in the first trip back to his former stomping grounds, 58-54 over Auburn on Friday night.

Josh Cameron’s 22 points paced Coastal Carolina (6-2), while the Chanticleers outrebounded Auburn 41-32. Joining Cameron in double-figures was Gillis with 15, including 13 in the second half, and Shivaughn Wiggins with 11. Badou Diagne and Cameron co-led the Chants’ efforts on the boards with nine each.

“I give a lot of credit to our team; we were resilient,” said Ellis, who kissed the floor when he was given a standing ovation before the game. “Auburn, when they started the game out, I didn’t think they were going to miss. Fortunately, they did and our defense really stayed the course and won this game. I’m proud of our team and the way they rebounded. Three-point shots were an advantage for them, rebounding was an advantage for us.”

The Tigers (3-4) made 11 3-pointers, but made just six other field goals in the loss. Auburn’s KT Harrell had 23 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers. No other Tiger reached double-figure on the night. The Tigers finished the final 13 minutes of the game 2-of-16 from the floor.

Auburn opened the game hot from beyond the arc and stayed that way for the first 16 minutes of the game. The Tigers stormed out to a 9-0 lead on threes by Tahj Shamsid-Deen and Harrell. Gillis slowed the Tiger scoring streak with a mid-range jumper, marking Coastal’s first basket of the game at 14:49.

With Auburn leading 19-5 following Harrell’s third three of the half, Cameron answered with a triple of his own before stealing a lazy Auburn pass at the top of the arc and racing to the basket for an uncontested layup. Harrell then connected on another three from the corner; however, Coastal’s Wiggins responded with a quick 6-0 run in 70 seconds to cut the Tigers’ lead to 22-16.

Auburn regained an 11-point advantage at 27-16 with Shansid-Deen’s second 3-pointer with a 5:19 showing before the half. The Chants would not go away quietly over the final four minutes of play, as Cameron and Wiggins combined to score the half’s final seven points and cutting the Auburn lead to two possessions at 27-23.

Auburn, which entered the game shooting 30.4 percent from beyond the arc, closed the first half 7-of-14 from 3-point range. Moreover, 14 of the Tigers’ 22 shots in the opening 20 minutes came from 3-point land. Coastal was 25.8 percent from the field in the half, but outrebounded the Tigers 19-15.

Trailing by 11 at the 9:33 mark of the second half, Gillis got the Chants kick started with a three at the top of the arc and Tristian Curtis followed with a tip-in, cutting the deficit to 46-40. Harrell then knocked down his seventh trey of the game, but Diagne answered immediately with a triple of his own. A pair at the line by Wiggins followed hook shot by Diagne and a jumper by Gillis left Coastal down 50-49 with 4:04 to play.

Coastal then got a rebound on a missed Tiger three and set up its offense on the ensuing possession in search of its first lead of the night. Cameron would deliver that lead with a putback on a missed three by Diagne, giving the teal-clad Chanticleers a 51-50 lead with 3:17 to play.

Auburn’s Jordan Granger tied the game at 54 on a dunk with 1:21 to play. Diagne answered immediately with a jumper from the left block and Gillis sealed the victory on a free-throw line jumper with 10 seconds to play.

Coastal Carolina takes the next five days off before returning to the hardwood of The HTC Center on Thursday, Dec. 11 against Warren Wilson. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy of AU Athletics

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